Saturday, January 24, 2009
"Night and day he among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones." Mark 5: 5
Last night we arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts so that I can begin a semester as the Procter Fellow at Episcopal Divinity School. I graduated from here almost twenty years ago with my MDIV and much has happened in the ensuing years. Much has changed here and much has changed in me. Comfortingly, there is much that is very familiar and I am much the same person I was twenty years ago, except I have no beautiful daughters in tow, who I miss very much. Mark and I unpacked some and then went into Harvard Square for dinner. We wandered around looking at the familiar and we finally ended up at our favorite Chinese restaurant which has stood the test of time. We had a lovely meal and then headed back to go grocery shopping and to continue the move in process. While we were walking home, a young well dressed man approached from behind, bellowing and screaming. He was tall and carrying a shoulder bag and looked for all the world to be successful and competent. He stumbled around the square bumping into signs and almost falling in the middle of the street, all the while crying out, deep painful agonizing screams. His long legs moved him quickly past us and I couldn't help but think that here was a young man with many demons -whether expressed with the help of alcohol, drugs or madness - he was greatly tormented.
Jesus encountered a man riddled with pain and torment and takes the lot of it away. The man had spent years among the tombs, the ghosts, the world of pain that haunted and tormented him. He was in such pain he tormented himself. Those who are tormented and abused often end up tormenting themselves or others just to relieve their pain. But Jesus send it all away, far from the man who knew only pain and torment. And Jesus promises to do like wise for us. This is not only a story of an extraordinary encounter, but a living understanding of the pain many people carry with them every waking moment. Demons who are legions - mistakes and abuses from our past, losses too great to overcome, broken hearts, destroyed dreams and abandonment. We too can wander among the tombs, rehashing all of the damage and mistakes of our past, wrestling with demons, visible and invisible. And Jesus understands the demons we carry and is here with us to send them away.
Today, I want to offer my life to God, letting go of the past, demons and all. I want to open my arms wide to Christ's present and future. I want to pray for those who are racked with their own demons and quilt and remind us all that it God's desire that we are free - free from all the demons, even those of our own making. And I pray that we can all be healed so that we might offer hope to those still wandering the graveyards, still wracked with hurt that they cannot release. May we all be agents of the release and freedom that only Christ can bring.